No announcement yet.

Michael Haag The Templars The History And The Myth Solomon's Temple To The Freemasons

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #76
    Dan Brown The Da Vinci Code (2003)
    Everyone loves a conspiracy. Brown is so convinced this is true, he tells us twice. The assumption being that our obsession with a nothing-is-as-it-seems version of history might blind us to the way this compelling story edits, stretches and wilfully misunderstands the facts. Any reader who took Brown’s guidance on the Templars literally would conclude that they were founded by a mysterious order called the Priory of Sion, busied themselves by ensuring that motifs of the vagina, womb and clitoris were incorporated into many medieval cathedrals, and worshipped their own fertility god. Alas and alack, the Priory–which Brown seems to think was a real entity–was the fanciful invention of one Pierre Plantard, a French forger who came up with the idea in 1956, elaborated and reinforced his claims with a series of further forgeries, then finally admitted under oath that he had made the whole thing up–but of course if you are a true conspiracy theorist you know what that means! Apart from possibly those knights who jousted in drag at Acre in 1286–and the chronicler does not say that there were any Templars among them–there is no evidence that the Templars ever made any attempt to get in touch with their feminine side. In fact, their rule warned: ‘The company of woman is a dangerous thing.’

    The novel’s central anti-clerical message means that the downfall of the Templars is attributed not to King Philip IV but to ‘Machiavellian’ Pope Clement V, who, fed up with being blackmailed about the secret of the Grail, unleashed an ‘ingeniously planned sting operation’ on the innocent order and saw to it that the tortured knights’ ashes were ‘tossed unceremoniously into the Tiber’. This would have been some toss as Clement V never stepped foot in Italy, never mind Rome.

    Kate Mosse Labyrinth (2005)
    Labyrinth reads like one of those books where the author is more worried about achieving the desired blockbuster pagination (700 pages) than how the story is told. But after 250 pages, the narrative begins to gather momentum as the threads of her parallel lives–Cathar Alaïs and modern-day volunteer archaeologist Alice Tanner–intersect compellingly. Mosse takes many themes associated with the Templars–the Grail, the Cathars, the implication of secret knowledge from the East–but only mentions the order in passing as she builds to a finale in which the Grail is revealed as a chalice, something that enables initiates to live for 800 years and ‘the love that is handed down from generation to generation’.

    When she researched the novel, Mosse writes, she felt sure there would be a role for the Templars but decided ‘the connections people like to make between the Albigensian heresy and the Knights Templar are based on nothing more than historical coincidence’. On her website she has published her notes on the man she refers to as ‘the great Jacques de Molay’ and speculates that the Knights Templar may have been the ‘fair-headed people using the power of the covenant’ who, in Ethiopian tradition, raised the massive obelisk at Axum. While many rumours and legends link the Templars to Ethiopia (usually in connection with the Ark of the Covenant), the obelisk is 1600–1700 years old. So not historical nor a coincidence.

    Julia Navarro The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud (2006)
    This is one of the best Templar-inspired novels, Navarro alternating between a modern-day investigation into a mutilated body at Turin Cathedral and a well-told, and in large part nicely conceived, secret history of the Shroud. In this, the Templars–and a ruthless secret brotherhood from the biblical town of Edessa–are the antagonists.

    The Templars are portrayed, as one of the investigators says, ‘as supermen who can do anything’ whose most sacred mission, once they have blackmailed the Byzantine emperor to hand it over, is to protect the Shroud. They manage to smuggle it out of Acre just before the Holy Land falls in 1291, but their annus horribilis, 1307, forces the order into desperate measures. One of the plotters trying to get his hands on the Shroud is said to be a direct descendant of Geoffrey of Charney, who burned with James of Molay. This makes possible sense as the widow of a man called Charney, who may have been the nephew of Geoffrey of Charney, put the Shroud on display in 1357. Navarro suggests that the Templars survived–initially in such places as Portugal, where, as she correctly notes, the order was simply nationalised, and in Scotland–and are so powerful today that they can, with impunity, organise the assassination of policemen who get too close to their secret.

    Navarro tantalises readers with the idea that ‘there was a figure to whom the Templars prayed throughout the world though His name was not Baphomet’. In secret chapel meetings, she suggests they worshipped ‘a painting, an image of a strange figure, an idol’. Wisely, she does not elucidate, so the reader can take their pick from the usual suspects: Sophia the Greek goddess of wisdom, the Prophet Mohammed, the mummified head of Jesus, an Egyptian cat or the head of a Sufi martyr.

    Raymond Khoury The Last Templar (2005)
    Khoury used to write for BBC TV’s superior spy drama Spooks and he kicks off his bestselling novel with a stunning conceit, as four horsemen dressed as Templars storm the opening of an exhibition of Vatican artefacts in New York. As FBI agent Sean Reilly and archaeologist Tess Chaykin investigate, they discover a secret that has lain buried for a thousand years.

    As a page turner, Khoury’s ‘deadly game of cat and mouse across three continents’ is as compelling as Dan Brown’s novels. Like Brown and Berry, he finds the idea that the Templars’ real treasure was gold, money or the medieval equivalent of traveller’s cheques just too mundane. So he has a Templar ship called Falcon Temple setting sail on the order of the Grand Master days before the fall of Acre with a mysterious chest that contains the writings of ‘a man the entire world knew as Jesus Christ’. This seems to conflate two historical events: the real removal of the Templar treasure from the Holy Land and the activities of a disgraced Templar sergeant called Roger of Flor who made a fortune by ferrying the desperate and wealthy out of Acre in his galley called the Falcon. Khoury also mentions the legend of the Templars’ maritime escape, specifically the fleet of eighteen galleys that sailed out of La Rochelle the night before the Templars were arrested in 1307, never to be seen again.

    For Khoury’s Templars, the treasure is a sideshow. Their real purpose is to unite the three religions that held sway in medieval times–Christianity, Judaism and Islam–by exposing the fraud at the heart of the resurrection myth and humbling the arrogant clergy. It is at this point that fiction and history finally part company for good. But this final implausibility does not spoil the fun.


    • #77
      Steve Berry The Templar Legacy (2006)
      This blockbuster never quite recovers from having a hero named Cotton (‘it’s a long story,’ he says whenever someone asks, which they do tediously often) and an evil Templar mastermind called Raymond de Roquefort who wants to bring Christianity to its knees and restore the Templars to their former power by publishing a secret gospel which proves that Jesus never physically came back from the dead.

      In interviews, Berry talks as if the Templars are old chums so it would be intriguing to discover where he gets some of his ideas from. He often quotes the Templar Rule in the novel, suggesting that it forbade knights from washing, though nobody who comes into contact with his Templars seems deterred by body odours. And his imagination goes into overdrive when it comes to James of Molay’s burning. He has King Philip watching dispassionately, though the historical sources seem pretty clear that he was not present, and then a crack squad of Templars swimming across the Seine to fetch the Master’s burnt bones back in their mouths. That said, Berry gets quite a lot of stuff right. Like the battle cry (‘Beauséant’) and the fact, recently confirmed, that the Templars were absolved by Clement V of the charges brought against them.

      The novel’s most original suggestion is that James of Molay’s image, not Christ’s, is mysteriously preserved on the Turin Shroud. The order is linked with the Shroud and the famous carbon-dating does suggest that the portion of tested cloth comes from the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries, the Templar era. Berry says he got the idea from The Second Messiah by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, two Freemasons turned amateur historians. The book suggests that James of Molay was tortured and crucified in a parody of Christ’s agony by Philip’s henchman William of Nogaret, a theory Berry draws on in some truly excruciating scenes. But historians find a conflict of evidence about whether James of Molay confessed with or without torture, let alone that he underwent a kind of crucifixion.

      Robyn Young The Brethren Trilogy (2006–08)
      The rise of the Mamelukes and their mounting pressure against the Crusader states during the last decades of the thirteenth century provides the setting for Robyn Young’s Brethren trilogy. Brethren is the first volume of the trilogy, and the plot turns on a mysterious book that goes missing from the order’s vaults which holds the key to a secret group of knights. The locations run from the filthy backstreets of medieval London and Paris to the shimmering light and burning heat of Syria and Palestine where the Mameluke Sultan Baybars is renewing the struggle against the Christians. Also there are girls, and love. The second volume, Crusade, brings the reader to Acre where ‘a ruthless cabal of Western merchants, profiteering from slaves and armaments, has devised a shocking plan to reignite hostilities in the Holy Land’. Also there are girls, and love. Requiem, the final volume, covers the downfall of the Templars at the hands of Philip IV of France. And there are girls, and love. The tragedy of the Crusades, and of the Templars, we are led to understand, was that nobody listened to the Brethren, that secret group of social workers operating within the heart of the Knights Templar who might have made everything nice. The trilogy’s lashings of love interest ensures that where historical fiction fails, as it does throughout, Mills and Boon rushes to the breach.

      For decades, Hollywood’s perception of the Templars began and ended with George Sanders’ suave villainy as Sir Brian de Bois-Gilbert in Ivanhoe (1952). Apart from perennial inferior remakes of Scott’s saga, the Templars did not get much of a look-in until the 1970s when Spanish director Amando de Ossorio brought the order back to life as zombies in his Blind Dead movies.

      And then came George Lucas. There is a theory that the Jedi knights in Star Wars (1977) are thinly disguised Templars and that their massacre (in 2005’s Revenge of the Sith) is a reference to the destruction of the order in 1307. There are rumours that in the original script the knights were known as Jedi Templar. The Jedi, like the Templars, were warrior monks whose behaviour was governed by a code. And the Templars–through their supposed association with the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant–are often credited with mysterious, even supernatural powers which, some Star Wars aficionados insist, resembles the Force that the Jedi knights must master.

      More easily identifiable Templar and Grail myths came to the fore in two Steven Spielberg blockbusters that Lucas produced: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). And these created something of a genre, being followed by the confused Dolph Lundgren thriller The Minion (1998), the entertaining Indiana Jones clone National Treasure (2001), the baffling Revelation (2001), Christophe Gans’ horror movie, Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001), and Ridley Scott’s sword and sandal epic, Kingdom of Heaven (2005). Not to mention the movie version of The Da Vinci Code (2006).

      The Blind Dead movies (1971–75)
      The Blind Dead series kicked off with Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971) in which the Templars–known only as Knights of the East but identifiable from their garb–are brought back from the dead as blind mummies. Slow, creepy and bizarre–the zombie-Templars are blind so they hunt by sound–the film was successful enough for Ossorio to make three more: Return of the Blind Dead (1973), The Ghost Galleon (1974) and Night of the Seagulls (1975). The series inspired a New York punk band called The Templars.

      The Indiana Jones Trilogy (1981–89)
      ‘All of a sudden, whoosh, it was gone.’ That remark by one of the US intelligence officers who recruits Indiana Jones to save the Ark from the Nazis pretty much sums up what we know about the fate of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). The Ark was supposed to make armies invincible–hence Hitler’s interest–though it mysteriously failed to prevent the occupation of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and, in Spielberg’s version of history, by the Egyptians too. This first film in Steven Spielberg’s series bases its plot on the historically nonsensical proposition that the Ark was taken to Egypt by Pharaoh Shishak, which if true would have made it impossible for the Templars to have made off with it two thousand years later, as some would have us believe.

      The third film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), has a suggestively Templar theme and features a scene in which the weary Templar-like guardian of the Holy Grail looks forward with quiet relief to ending his 800-year watch. Jones (Harrison Ford) and his father (Sean Connery) combine to prevent the chalice falling into Nazi hands. Even though the sets are full of eight-pointed stars and talk of chivalrous knights abounds, the Templars are not mentioned once. Instead we get a secret military order called the Knights of the Cruciform Sword.

      But the story does capture the Grail’s mythic significance. When the heroes and the villains find the cave where the knight keeps watch over the hidden treasure and the Holy Grail, the knight warns them to choose wisely. The shallow, mercenary villain picks the blingiest goblet and dies. Indy, who has no real interest in the Grail but knows his father is obsessed by it, drinks from a plain wooden cup–the kind of cup a carpenter might have, he suggests–and it heals his troubled relationship with his father. In spirit, the denouement is consistent with Eschenbach’s poem Parzival–a vague source for this movie–which suggests that you have to be truly selfless to be worthy of the Grail.


      • #78
        The Minion (1998)
        The budget for this film was $12 million. A pity they did not spend a cent on research. Dolph Lundgren is a butt-kicking Templar monk with a spiked leather glove whose sacred duty it is to do what the Templars have always done and stop a key that has kept the Anti-christ imprisoned for thousands of years from falling into the wrong hands. The laughs start as soon as Françoise Robertson’s Native American archaeologist stares at some skeletons in a hidden chamber in New York and decides the Templar garb they are wearing was made in Ireland in the sixth century. Although ostensibly a Templar, Lundgren fails to point out that she is six hundred years out. The idea that the order was founded in the twelfth century, we are told later, is merely conventional wisdom. There are rumours, we are assured, that the Templars may have started a thousand years before and, the film suggests, it may even have been started by Saint Peter. After such revelations, we barely pause to wonder how a bunch of warrior monks in Jerusalem come to be wearing Irish weave and ended up in New York. It is those Templars, you see. They can do anything.

        National Treasure (2001)
        Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, two thirds of the trinity behind The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, suggested in their book The Temple and the Lodge that the Knights Templar survived their dissolution by hiding in Scotland and centuries later, as Freemasons, plotted the independence of the United States. The seductive idea of a Templar-mason continuum was first floated in France in the 1740s, by Scottish-born Freemason Andrew Michael Ramsay, and provides the slender hook for this Indiana Jones-style adventure in which Nicolas Cage–and eventually his dotty dad Jon Voight–seek the lost Templar treasure with the aid of a map some Templars thoughtfully drew, in invisible ink, on the back of the Declaration of Independence. The clues seem inordinately complex, as if a Templar Einstein had conceived them for other Einsteins to crack. And there is no credible reason for the treasure to be in America at all–other than box-office takings. The film also goes into the business of unfinished pyramids and all-seeing eyes as found on American dollars being masonic symbols.

        Revelation (2001)
        A sacred artefact from the time of Christ, missing for centuries, suddenly turns up in the back of a camper van and becomes the focus for a struggle between good (billionaire Terence Stamp, his son James D’Arcy and alchemist Natasha Wightman) and evil, personified by a 2000-year-old demonic Grand Master (Udo Kier) who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after watching Christ’s crucifixion. The artefact is a wooden box, containing the first coded reference to Christ on the cross, which has since had all kinds of arcane graffiti carved on it. The Templars protected the box and its explosive secret but Kier is desperate to get hold of it, crack the code and use it to clone Jesus. Badly acted and scripted, exhibiting a heroic disregard for continuity, this movie draws on The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’s heretical proposition about Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the idea of a secret order that links Christ, the Merovingian kings and Sir Isaac Newton, but it adds a few more bizarre scenarios and throws in some occult lore to achieve a truly magnificent incoherence.

        Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
        Gans’ unusual horror movie is silly but compelling. A rogue branch of the Templars–the brotherhood of the film’s title–have been sent to France by the Pope to scare Louis XV. They take a rather lateral view of their brief, deciding the best way to frighten the monarch is to let a beast, wearing Templar armour, feast on the women and children in a small town.

        Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
        Making a film about the Crusades at the time of the war in Iraq was bound to be politically sensitive. So in pursuit of an acceptable and simplistic message–that the Christian West is not always good and the Muslim East is not all bad–director Ridley Scott revises history wholesale, or rather makes it up.

        To be fair, he might have been unduly influenced by the novels of his namesake, Walter Scott. His Saladin (charismatically played by the Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud), who is wise, benevolent and omnipotent, owes more to Scott’s portrayal of him in The Talisman than to the historical character. And the film’s war-crazed Templars are partly descended from the Templar baddie in Ivanhoe. Both Guy of Lusignan, the king of Jerusalem, and Rainald of Chatillon, who are presented as unmitigated villains, are also presented as Templars, which in reality they were not. The real Templar in the film, the Grand Master Gerard of Ridefort, is presented in the worst possible terms, exceeding the most hostile accounts given of him in the more biased chronicles of the time.

        Time and again the point is made that religion is a bad thing, or at least Christianity is, and so the only really good Franks in the film are absurdly anachronistic liberal humanists and agnostics like Jeremy Irons’ Tiberias (in effect Count Raymond III of Tripoli, who was also lord of Tiberias), and Orlando Bloom’s Balian. This may help explain why Bloom has all the charisma and martial presence of a petulant office supply manager complaining about missing paperclips. Fortunately the Muslims in the film are permitted their devout convictions and come across as far more real if no less sanguinary people. Apart from some generalities–there was such a place as Jerusalem and it fell to Saladin–there is nothing that bears much relation to historical fact.


        • #79
          TEMPLARS ON TV
          The Knights Templar have only intermittently fascinated programme makers. Until Raymond Khoury finally adapts his own novel The Last Templar for television, the order’s greatest contribution to TV drama must be the first dramatisation of Maurice Druon’s The Accursed Kings novels made for French television in 1972 and shown with subtitles on the BBC. The original series was as acclaimed in France as I Claudius was in Britain. Remaking it was always going to be risky but thanks to the presence of such big names as Gerard Depardieu (who shone as James of Molay) and Jeanne Moreau, and decent effects using computer-generated imagery, the 2005 remake was not bad.

          In Britain and America the Templars have inspired more documentarists than dramatists. In the acclaimed eco-thriller Edge of Darkness (1985), Troy Kennedy Martin worked the Templars into the drama’s back story, suggesting that two of the protagonists, Grogan and Jedburgh, were a Templar and a Teutonic knight in previous lives. Martin admitted to being fascinated by the secret myth of the Templars and in his story their descendants are plotting to take humanity–or at least the order’s soldier-scholars–to another planet.

          Another rare exception to the general indifference of television to the subject is The Last Knight (2000), an episode in the US fantasy/adventure series Relic Hunter, in which Tia Carrere’s globetrotting professor and Christien Anholt’s linguist investigate a medallion that may have belonged to James of Molay and search for his famed invincible sword. The medallion’s inscription reads, in part, ‘Pierre Chevalier’, which, Carrere says, happens to be a painting in the Louvre. By finding the abbey in the picture, they discover a secret Templar burial ground and James of Molay’s disappointingly unmagical sword. They are told by a French confidant that ‘the Templars were the rock stars of their times’, a notion that rather spoils the historical background.

          The knights who guard the Grail in Richard Wagner’s Parsifal (1882) were never actually identified as Templars by the composer, though he did suggest their costumes should resemble those worn by the order’s knights. If you judge the knights purely by their costumes, you would have to say this magnificent, influential and controversial opera is probably the best musical work associated with the order.

          But Wagner is not the only classical composer to touch on Templar themes. Sir Arthur Sullivan (Ivanhoe), Otto Nicolai (Il Templario), Heinrich Marschner (Der Templer und die Jüdin), and Michael William Balfe (Il Talismano) have all written operas inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s Templar sagas, Ivanhoe and The Talisman.

          The Templars have also had a marginal influence on pop and rock music. Amando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead movies inspired a New York punk band called The Templars. Formed in 1991, this multi-racial skinhead band drew on punk, glam rock and rock and roll, named their studios Acre, and adopted Templar surnames. Their first album The Return of Jacques de Molay was released in 1994 on Dim Records. Other Templar-themed releases followed, alluding to the battle at the Horns of Hattin, Ossorio’s movies and Outremer. Drummer Phil Rigaud says the band’s name was ‘an homage to the warriors of the past’. Their song ‘The Templars’ manages to compress the order’s history into four surprisingly conventional rhyming verses.

          In 1997, the epic German heavy metal band Grave Digger released a concept album devoted to the order, called Knights of the Cross. The album, the second in a medieval trilogy, included such tracks as ‘Baphomet’, ‘The Curse of Jacques’, ‘Monks of War’ and ‘Keepers of the Holy Grail’, not to mention ‘Battle of Bannockburn’, their allusion to the Baigent and Leigh theory that a band of Templars helped the Scots achieve independence.

          The Templars’ curious appeal to European heavy-metal bands was confirmed when, from the late 1990s onwards, Swedish band HammerFall released tracks like ‘Templars Of Steel’ and ‘The Templar Flame’, and released a concert DVD called The Templar Renegade Crusades. The band’s official website ( even has a forum called The Templar Area.

          As you might expect, the Templars have appeared in many of the medieval-themed video games. Medieval Total War allows players to build up divisions of Templar knights and do battle with Turks and Almohads across Europe and the Middle East. It is surprisingly instructive. And most recently, the Templars have been given rather more sinister walk-on parts in Assassin’s Creed (pictured), a game which conjures a graphically rich reconstruction of the Crusader era and in good Templar fiction style introduces a kind of Matrix dimension to the plot. There is clearly pop culture life in the order yet.


          • #80
            Further Reading
            History of the Templars
            The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple, Malcolm Barber, Cambridge University Press (UK) 1994, (US) 1995. Barber is the academic authority on the Templars and this is his definitive work. Lucidly separating myth from history, he offers a full and detailed account of the order, its origins, heyday and suppression, and flourishing afterlife in the popular imagination. However, like all other books reviewed in this section, it was written before the discovery of the Chinon Parchment.

            The Trial of the Templars, Malcolm Barber, Cambridge University Press (UK and US) 1993. The motivations of the participants and the long-term repercussions of the trial of the Templars have been the subject of intense and unresolved controversy, which still has resonances in our own time. In this classic account, Barber discusses the trial in the context of the Crusades, heresy, the Papacy and the French monarchy.

            The Templars: Selected Sources, Malcolm Barber and Keith Bate, translators, Manchester University Press (UK and US) 2002. A collection of translated contemporary sources that document the origins of the Knights Templar and the circumstances of their suppression and dissolution. It offers a valuable insight into the lives of those who joined, supported and attacked the order and examines the varied facets of its activities during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

            The Murdered Magicians, Peter Partner, Oxford University Press (UK and US) 1982. On the one hand an historical account of the Templars, on the other an argument that they were transformed by fairy-tale and myth from dull and obedient servants of the Church into enlightened magicians of freedom and knowledge.

            The Templars, Piers Paul Reid, Weidenfeld and Nicolson (UK) 1999, Da Capo Press (US) 2006. A highly readable and sympathetic account of the Templars that draws on sound historical scholarship while delivering a dramatic and driving narrative.

            The Knights Templar: A New History, Helen Nicholson, Sutton Publishing (UK) 2001, (US) 2004. This history of the Templars brings in new material from France, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere, much of which English-speaking readers will not have seen before. The book also has the virtue of being highly illustrated with many pictures of Templar sites across Europe and the Middle East.

            The Chinon Chart: Papal Absolution to the Last Templar, Master Jacques de Molay, Barbara Frale, Journal of Medieval History, Volume 30, Number 2, Amsterdam 2004. Frale’s discovery of the Chinon chart or parchment in the Vatican Secret Archives in 2001 was little short of a revolution for Templar studies and it is no exaggeration to say that everything written about the end of the Knights Templar before this publication has to be rewritten in its light.

            Medieval Pilgrimages
            To Be a Pilgrim: The Medieval Pilgrimage Experience, Sarah Hopper, Sutton Publishing (UK and US) 2002. This introductory survey of pilgrimage looks at the reasons for its popularity and explores the medieval pilgrimage experience. The book is illustrated throughout with images from medieval art, surviving artefacts such as pilgrim’s badges, maps of the routes taken and photographs of the sites and shrines visited.

            History of the Crusades
            A History of the Crusades, three volumes, Steven Runciman, Penguin (UK) 1990, (US) 1987. Runciman succeeds in his magisterial work to enthral the layman as much as he satisfies the historian with the excitement of battle, the interplay of personalities and ambitions, and the effect of the Crusades on European history. The first volume takes the story through the First Crusade to the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, while the second and third volumes describe the Frankish years of glory in Outremer followed by their defeats and the undermining of the Crusaders’ ideals.

            The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, Amin Maalouf, Saqi Books (UK) 2001, Schocken (US) 1989. An interesting sifting of material–though almost everything in this account can be found in Runciman’s History of the Crusades, and Arab writers were in fact never as interested in the Crusades as writers in Outremer or the West.

            The Chronicles of the Crusades, Jean de Joinville and Geoffroy de Villehardouin, Penguin (UK and US) 1970. Both accounts are by French soldiers who fought in the holy wars, Villehardouin in the Fourth Crusade and its infamous conquest of Constantinople, and–relevant to the history of the Templars–Joinville in the Seventh Crusade when King Louis of France (the future St Louis) so miserably failed in his invasion of Egypt and cost so many Templar lives.

            The Atlas of the Crusades, Jonathan Riley-Smith, editor, Times Books (UK), Facts on File (US), 1990. More than 120 maps accompanied by linking narrative, contemporary accounts and illustrations follow the military campaigns in detail and provide reconstructions of Crusader cities and castles and cross-sections of such buildings as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

            Crusader Castles
            Crusader Castles, Hugh Kennedy, Cambridge University Press (UK and US) 2001. An outstanding study of both Crusader and Muslim castles in the Holy Land, and in particular those castles built by the military orders. The work concludes with comments on the impact of the Crusader experience on castle-building back in the West. An appendix gives detailed coverage of the construction of the Templar castle at Saphet.

            Jerusalem and the Temple Mount
            A History of Jerusalem, Karen Armstrong, HarperCollins (UK) 1996, Ballentine Books (US) 1997. The way Armstrong uncovers layer after layer of the city’s history is fascinating and informative, though it does suffer from an anti-Jewish and anti-Christian bias.

            Below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem: A Sourcebook on the Cisterns, Subterranean Chambers and Conduits of the Haram Al-Sharif, Shimon Gibson and David M. Jacobson, British Archaeological Reports (UK), 1996. Since archaeological research is forbidden on the Temple Mount, the only source for what lies below are the reports, from ancient times to the early twentieth century, gathered here and meticulously analysed.

            The Temple of Jerusalem, Simon Goldhill, Profile Books (UK) 2004, Harvard University Press (US) 2005. Part archaeology, and part religious and political history, this is a readable and informed account of the history of the Temple, from its founding to present times.

            History of the Middle East
            A History of the Arab Peoples, Albert Hourani, Faber (UK) 1991, Belknap Press (US) 2003. A useful general history of the Arab world which gives scant attention to the Crusades–testimony to how little they actually mattered in the larger world view of Arab imperialism.

            The Middle East in the Middle Ages, Robert Irwin, Croom Helm (UK) 1986, ACLS History E-Book Project (US) 1999. The only serious study of the Mameluke period, and from that perspective covering the final decades, from 1250 to 1291, of the Crusader presence in Outremer.

            Templar Locations in Britain
            In Search of the Knights Templar: A Guide to the Sites in Britain, Simon Brighton, Weidenfield & Nicolson (UK and US) 2006. Much of the story of the Templars can be read from their material traces, which form an intimate part of the British landscape. This well-illustrated book is a complete guide to the surprising number of Templar churches, castles, estates and other survivals round the country.

            The Holy Grail
            Arthurian Romances, Chrétien de Troyes, Penguin Classics (UK and US) 1991. Where the Grail began. The medieval Grail myth was invented by the twelfth-century French writer of courtly romance, Chrétien de Troyes, but he died leaving his story hanging in the air, and it has been tantalising people ever since.

            The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief, Richard Barber, Allen Lane/Penguin (UK) 2004, Harvard University Press (US) 2005. This serious, fascinating and reliable compendium of theology, literary criticism and cultural history adds up to the true biography of a medieval myth.


            • #81
              The Cathars, Dualism and Other Heresies
              The Cathars: Dualist Heretics in Languedoc in the High Middle Ages, Malcolm Barber, Longman (UK and US) 2000. Medieval heresy, orthodoxy and the Crusades are the subjects of this book, which also examines the social and political history of Languedoc and the rise of the Capetian dynasty. The Cathars infiltrated the highest ranks of society and posed a major threat not only to the Catholic Church but to secular authorities as well. This is a fascinating study of the development of radical religious belief and its violent suppression.

              Montaillou, Emanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Penguin Books (UK) 1980, (US) 1990. The history of a small medieval village in the French Pyrenees, the last to actively support the Cathar heresy, told from a thoroughly human perspective.

              The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy, Yuri Stoyanov, Yale University Press (UK and US) 2000. A comprehensive history of religious dualism, the doctrine that man and cosmos are constant battlegrounds for the forces of good and evil and their supernatural protagonists, from late Egyptian religion to the crusade against dualism in medieval Europe.

              King Solomon’s Temple in the Masonic Tradition, Alex Horne, The Aquarian Press (UK) 1972, Wilshire Book Company (US) 1974. Using biblical and non-biblical sources, this work examines the position held by the Temple of Solomon in the allegorical, symbolical and spiritual background to the legends and practise of Freemasonry.

              The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society, Jasper Ridley, Constable and Robinson (UK) 2000, Arcade Publishing (US) 2001. Neither a Freemason nor a conspiracy theorist, Ridley is a veteran historian and biographer who provides a balanced and thoughtful account.

              Revolutionary Brotherhood, Steven C. Bullock, University of North Carolina Press (UK and US) 1996. The introduction of Freemasonry from Britain to America in the 1730s and its role in establishing the new republic.

              The Rosslyn Hoax?, Robert L.D. Cooper, Lewis Masonic (UK) 2006. Cooper is curator at the Grand Lodge of Scotland Library, and his many works include books on Scottish heritage, Freemasonry, a biography of the Sinclair (St Clair) family and a history of Rosslyn Chapel. Using original documents, he explores the fabrications and wishful thinking that lie behind the claims of a Templar connection with the Freemasons and with Rosslyn, the Sinclairs and Scotland.

              Alternative History
              The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, Arrow Books (UK and US) 1982. This was the book that brought together and often invented the elements–the Grail as the bloodline of Jesus, Mary Magdalene as his wife, the Templars and the Cathars–that powered Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Two entire chapters, and many other scattered pages, are devoted to misrepresenting and manufacturing Templar history.

              The Temple and the Lodge, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, Arcade Publishing (UK) 1991, Arrow (US) 2006. Building on their earlier success, the authors here link the Templars to the Freemasons via the Grail, the Scots Guards, Robert the Bruce, the French royal family, the Rosicrucians and the British Royal Society–and from these to the founders of the United States.

              The Templar Revelation, Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, Corgi (UK), Touchstone (US), 1998. The Leonardo da Vinci element in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code came straight out of this book, which also finds new and curious links between Mary Magdalene, the Freemasons, the Cathars and the Templars.

              The Hiram Key, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, Arrow Books (UK and US) 1997. The Temple of Solomon, Hiram, the ancient Egyptians, Gnostics, Jesus, the Freemasons and, yes, the Templars all come together here to explain why ‘the last four thousand years are never going to look the same again’.

              There are myriad sites on the Web dealing with the Templars and the Crusades, as well as with such subjects as Gnosticism, the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. Here are some of the more useful and interesting ones.

              Ancient and Medieval History Resources
              The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies

              The Crusades, the Templars, Islam, you name it: there is a wealth of serious sources available on this online reference site. Search for Templars, for example, and among other things you get an encylopedia entry by Malcolm Barber, the world’s leading authority on the order, which in turn refers you to such subjects as the Latin Rule of 1129 and St Bernard’s treatise De Laude Novae Militiae. The ORB is an academic site, written and maintained by medieval scholars for the benefit of their fellow instructors and serious students. All articles have been judged by at least two peer reviewers. Authors are held to high standards of accuracy, currency and relevance to the field of medieval studies.

              The Internet Medieval Sourcebook

              This is a subsection of the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies and will direct you to original sources for Pope Urban II’s speech at Clermont launching the First Crusade, William of Tyre’s account of the foundation of the Knights Templar, Ernoul’s chronicle covering the battle of Hattin, the Itinerarium Peregrinorium et Gesta Regis Ricardi on how Richard the Lionheart made peace with Saladin, and Ludolph of Suchem’s account of the fall of Acre in 1291. There are also such sources as the Cathar Gospel of John the Evangelist, Al-Makrisi’s account of the Crusade of St Louis, and Benjamin of Tudela’s twelfth-century account of his travels to Jerusalem and beyond.

              Internet Ancient History Sourcebook

              Also a subsection of ORB, this website provides original sources for ancient history, including ancient Israel, the Graeco-Roman world and early Christianity.

              Internet Jewish History Sourcebook

              The ORB subsection providing sources for Jewish history.

              Internet Islamic History Sourcebook

              The ORB subsection providing sources for Islamic history.

              Islamic Historiography

              ‘What is the Koran?’ by Toby Lester, executive editor of Atlantic Unbound.

              ‘What do we actually know about Mohammed?’ by Patricia Crone, professor of Islamic History, Princeton University.


              • #82
                The Crusades
                Crusades Encylopedia

                Established by Andrew Host, an American academic specialising in the Crusades, this website is a hobby with a serious purpose: to serve as a trustworthy tool in providing reliable online material for students or enthusiasts of the period. It provides hundreds of primary and secondary sources on the Crusades, sections on such subjects as women and the Crusades, and on Islam, Judaism and the Crusades, as well as an extensive bibliography and links to each of the Crusades, to the Reconquista, to the military orders and to the Templars in particular.

                The Templars
                Jacob’s Ford Castle archaeological site

                This site illustrates the continuing archaeological excavation of the Templar castle of Vadum Jacob, that is Jacob’s Ford in northern Israel, which guarded the route across the Jordan river from Damascus. The castle was attacked by Saladin, eight hundred of its defenders were killed and their bodies were thrown into a ditch. These Templar bones and the remains of the castle itself provide new insights into the Crusader past.

                Templar History magazine

                This website of the leading magazine aimed at Templar enthusiasts contains numerous articles on Templar history, personalities, battles, locations, the myths that have grown up around the order, and so on, plus images, the text of original documents and an introduction to the literature about the Templars. Not to miss a trick, it also sells Templar shirts, hats and mugs.

                Templar Globe

                The Templar Globe announces itself as the bulletin of the International Chancellery of the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani Universalis; in fact it appears to be a one-man blog, assisted by outside contributions, devoted loosely to things Templar. Its entries are in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, and are generally accompanied by excellent illustrations, photographs and even videos.

                Skull and Crossbones

                From an orthodox account of the Templars, this site branches out into fanciful and entertaining speculations, such as that the Templar fleet escaped the clutches of Philip IV, sailed for Scotland where the Templars helped Robert the Bruce win the battle of Bannockburn, and centuries later turned to piracy in the Caribbean. There are speculations too on Solomon’s Temple and the exact position it would have occupied on today’s Temple Mount, and articles on such varied topics as Saladin, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Prince Henry the Navigator, Athlit, the last Templar outpost on the mainland of Outremer, and descendants of the Templars now supposedly living in the backwoods of Tennessee.

                The Chinon Parchment
                The Chinon Parchment at the Vatican Secret Archives

                This site displays the original Chinon Parchment recently found in the Vatican Secret Archives and allows you to zoom in on every detail. The parchment gave Papal absolution to Grand Master James of Molay and other leading members of the Templars, clearing them of heresy, blasphemy and the other calumnies heaped upon them by King Philip IV of France.

                The Chinon Parchment in Translation

                The Chinon Parchment, written in Latin, is here translated into English.

                Jerusalem Virtual Library

                A cooperative venture between Al-Quds University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, this site provides online access to documents, maps, plans, inscriptions, illustrations and photographs illuminating the history of Jerusalem.

                The Jerusalem Archaeological Park

                Maps, plans, photographs and virtual reconstructions provide a vivid introduction to the archaeology of Jerusalem.

                Undiscovered Jerusalem

                An illustrated presentation of Jerusalem curiosities, including secret excavations beneath the Temple Mount, controversies over the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the whereabouts of the True Cross, and a madness known as the Jerusalem Syndrome that overcomes a proportion of visitors to the city, usually Protestant Americans, who imagine themselves to be Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist or Jesus Christ.

                The Ark of the Covenant
                History of the Ark of the Covenant

                Speculations on what happened to the Ark of the Covenant, with numerous links.

                The Holy Grail
                The Camelot Project

                This educational website features the history of the Grail legend as told through art and literature. It is part of a project which looks at the Arthurian legend.

                Gnosticism, Catharism and the Occult
                The Gnostic Society

                Website of the Los Angeles-based Gnostic Society, with endless information on Gnosticism including translations and photographs of ancient Gnostic documents.

                Gnosticism and Its Successors

                An essay on Gnosticism and its successors, including Catharism and the modern-day taste for the occult, by the eminent American critic Kenneth Rexroth.

                Pietre-Stones: Review of Freemasonry

                The premier educational source for Freemasons in all things to do with Freemasonry, including history, research papers, books, conferences, news and links–in five languages.


                • #83
                  The Templars: a chronology
                  c1209 BC Date of the first non-biblical reference to Israel, contained on a stele of the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah. This approximates the traditional date, c1200 BC, for the arrival of the Jews in the Promised Land after their Exodus from Egypt.

                  c993 BC David conquers Jerusalem and makes it his capital; he brings the Ark of the Covenant to the city.

                  c958–c951 BC Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem; the Ark of the Covenant is placed in its holy of holies.

                  586 BC Assyrians capture Jerusalem and destroy the city and Solomon’s Temple. The Ark of the Covenant is destroyed or lost at or before this time.

                  520 BC Work begins on the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

                  63 BC Palestine (as the Romans call it) becomes part of the Roman Empire.

                  20 BC–64 AD Construction of Herod’s Temple.

                  c30 AD Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem.

                  70 AD The Roman emperor Titus puts down the Jewish Revolt and destroys Jerusalem and Herod’s Temple.

                  135 AD After the Second Jewish Revolt the Roman emperor Hadrian obliterates all trace of the Temple and builds a temple of Jupiter on the site.

                  c140 AD Valentinus teaches Gnosticism, which flourishes throughout the second and third centuries.

                  313 AD Edict of Toleration legalises Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.

                  326–28 AD Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine the Great, makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and discovers the True Cross and the Holy Sepulchre.

                  335 AD Dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

                  622 AD Mohammed, the founder of Islam, flees his opponents in Mecca and establishes himself in Medina; this flight, hegira, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.

                  632 AD Death of Mohammed, by which time he has conquered all Arabia and brought it under the sway of Islam.

                  633 AD Mohammed’s successor the caliph Umar declares a jihad against the Byzantine Empire.

                  633–37 AD Arab Muslim armies invade Syria, Iraq and Palestine.

                  638 AD Jerusalem is conquered by an Arab army under the caliph Umar.

                  710 AD The Arabs invade Spain.

                  732 AD Arab army defeated at Poitiers in France by Charles Martel.

                  750 AD Umayyad dynasty overthrown by the Abbasid dynasty which transfers the capital of the Arab Empire from Damascus to Baghdad.

                  938 AD Jerusalem’s Muslims attack the city’s majority Christian population during Palm Sunday procession and set fire to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

                  969 AD Fatimids invade Egypt and found Cairo.

                  1004 The Fatimid caliph Hakim launches a ferocious persecution of Christians throughout Egypt and Palestine.

                  1009 A turning point in Western attitudes towards the Muslim East comes when the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is destroyed on the orders of the caliph Hakim.

                  1014 By this year over 40,000 churches have been destroyed as a result of anti-Christian pogroms incited by Hakim.

                  1055 Seljuk Turks take Baghdad.

                  1056 Muslims forbid Christian pilgrims to enter Jerusalem.

                  1063 The papacy gives its blessing to a Crusade against the Muslim occupation of Spain.

                  1064 Hundreds of unarmed Christian pilgrims are murdered within sight of Jerusalem.

                  1071–80 Seljuk Turks occupy Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine.

                  1074 The Byzantine Emperor appeals to the Pope for help but without result.

                  1085 Christians capture Toledo from the Muslims in Spain.

                  1095 Again the Byzantines appeal to the West for help. Pope Urban II calls for a Crusade to defend the Byzantine Empire against the Seljuk Turks and to liberate Jerusalem.

                  1099 Jerusalem is captured from the Fatimids by the First Crusade.

                  1113 Foundation of the Knights Hospitaller.


                  • #84
                    1119 A large party of unarmed pilgrims is attacked by Muslims and many hundreds are killed while on their way from Jerusalem to the River Jordan (Easter). Foundation of the Knights Templar (Christmas Day) to defend pilgrims and the Holy Land.

                    1120 At the Council of Nablus (January), the Templars are accepted in the East. Probably during this year Templars are headquartered in al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

                    1127 Hugh of Payns, the first Templar Grand Master, meets Bernard of Clairvaux.

                    1129 Council of Troyes. Establishment of the Latin Rule of the Templars.

                    c1131 In Praise of the New Knighthood written by Bernard of Clairvaux.

                    1130s–1140s The Templars given grants of land and put in charge of castles by the emerging kingdom of Portugal as part of its struggle to repel the Muslim occupation of the Iberian peninsula.

                    c1136 The Templars are put in charge of Baghras castle to defend the Amanus Pass north of Antioch.

                    1139 The papal bull Omne Datum Optimum establishes the Templars as an independent and permanent order within the Catholic Church, answerable only to the Pope.

                    1140s Templars build the Paris Temple, which becomes the headquarters of their international financial empire.

                    1144 The County of Edessa falls to Zengi, marking the start of the Muslim reaction against the Crusaders.

                    1148–49 The Second Crusade.

                    1149–50 Gaza is granted to the Templars.

                    c1152 The Templars are given Chastel Blanc (Safita) and Tartus.

                    1153 Ascalon falls to the Franks.

                    1164–1167 King of Jerusalem’s Egyptian campaigns supported by the Templars.

                    1171 Saladin puts an end to Fatimid rule and founds the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt and Syria.

                    1173 The Templars murder the Assassin envoy.

                    1176 The Assassins threaten Saladin.

                    1181 Chretien des Troyes begins his romance, Perceval, The Story of the Grail.

                    1185 Temple Church in London is consecrated by Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem.

                    1187 The battles of the Springs of Cresson (1 May) and of Hattin (4 July). Jerusalem falls to Saladin (2 October).

                    1189–92 The Third Crusade.

                    1191 The Templars establish new headquarters at Acre.

                    1191–92 The Templars occupy and briefly own Cyprus.

                    1202–04 The Fourth Crusade. It is diverted by the Venetians to the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, which it captures (1204).

                    1208 Albigensian Crusade launched against the Cathars.

                    1218 Templars build a new fortress at Athlit.

                    1218–21 The Fifth Crusade.

                    1228–29 Crusade of Frederick II; he regains Jerusalem by treaty.

                    1236 The Christians capture Cordoba in Spain.

                    1244 Fall of the Cathar stronghold at Montsegur. Loss of Jerusalem. Battle of La Forbie.

                    1248–54 Crusade of St Louis.

                    1250–60 Emergence of a Mameluke sultanate in Egypt and Syria.

                    1266 The Mamelukes take the Templar castle of Saphet (Safad).

                    1268 The Mamelukes take Beaufort castle from the Templars.

                    1271 The Templars abandon Safita (Chastel Blanc) and the Hospitallers abandon Krak des Chevaliers to the Mamelukes.

                    1271–72 Crusade of Edward of England; he agrees a ten-year truce with the Mamelukes.

                    1291 Fall of Acre to the Mamelukes (May); the Templars evacuate Tortosa and Athlit (August).


                    • #85
                      1300–01 ​ Templars attack the Egyptian coast; attempt to retake Outremer fails.

                      1302 ​ Loss of Ruad off the Syrian coast and the massacre of the Templar garrison.

                      1307 ​ Arrest of the Templars in France (October).

                      1308 ​ James of Molay and other Templar leaders meet secretly with papal emissaries at Chinon and are absolved.

                      1310 ​ Burning of fifty-four Templars as relapsed heretics near Paris.

                      1312 ​ The papacy abolishes the Templars and transfers their property to the Knights Hospitaller.

                      1314 ​ James of Molay, the last Grand Master, and Geoffrey of Charney are burnt to death in Paris (March). Pope Clement V dies (April). Robert the Bruce wins the battle of Bannockburn (June). Philip IV of France dies (November).

                      1319 ​ Establishment of the Knights of Christ, successors to the Templars in Portugal.

                      1418 ​ Prince Henry the Navigator becomes Grand Master of the Knights of Christ.

                      1456 ​ Construction of Rosslyn Chapel.

                      1487 ​ Publication of Malleus Maleficarum, the witchfinders’ handbook.

                      1492 ​ Christopher Columbus discovers America. The Christians capture Granada and drive the Muslims out of Spain.

                      1497 ​ Vasco da Gama, a member of the Knights of Christ, finds the sea route round Africa to India.

                      c.1550 ​ Origins of the Freemasons in England and Scotland.

                      1571 ​ Destruction of the Templar archive in Cyprus by the Ottomans.

                      1687 ​ Publication of Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton.

                      1717 ​ Foundation of the Freemasons’ Grand Lodge in London.

                      1736 or 1737 ​ Ramsay’s Oration declares that Freemasons are the descendants of the Crusaders.

                      c1760 ​ George Frederick Johnson states that Freemasons are the direct heirs of the Templars.

                      1776 ​ American Declaration of Independence.

                      1789 ​ Outbreak of the French Revolution.

                      1793 ​ Louis XVI goes to the guillotine; ‘James of Molay is avenged!’

                      1797 ​ Augustin Barruel blames the Templars and Freemasons for the French Revolution.

                      1843 ​ Scottish masonic order of Knights Templar invents the myth of the Templars at Bannockburn.

                      1844 ​ James Smith, founder of the Mormons, is killed by a mob.

                      2001 ​ Discovery of the Chinon Parchment in the Vatican Secret Archives.